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Putting a face to the game: 5 videogame movies that never saw the light of day.


Hollywood has long attempted to capitalize on the video game industry.  Yet  movie execs fail to understand the fundamental differences between the two mediums, reasoning that they can quickly leverage a successful gaming property into an equally profitable film.  As a result, many game-to-movie projects are abandoned or end up languishing in development hell .

Many of these movies got as far as the initial casting stage with scripts show to various actors in the hope of coaxing them on board.  Yet, for various reasons, they failed to proceed.  However, thanks to Project Murphy, Microsoft's new face-swapping bot, we can at least get a glimpse of how the movies respective stars might have looked.  I'll also be wildly speculating as to whether they would have succeeded or not,  demonstrating that this is genuine journalism and just not a thinly-veiled excuse to mess around with another ridiculous web application.   

And don't forget to stick around for the Definitely Not Ellen Page Bonus Round!

Saints Row – starring 50 Cent as The Boss

What happened? Some seven years ago, actor and rapper 50 Cent worked with THQ on a game called Blood in the Sand, which was moderately successful.  He optioned the rights to a Saints Row game with the intention of writing and presumably starring it it, but nothing ever came of it. 

Will it ever see the light of day?  Probably not. THQ entered bankrupcy a few years ago and the rights to Saints Row were purchased by Koch Media/Volition.  

Could it succeed? As  a stand alone film, possibly. But it likely wouldn't be totally faithful to the games which have become progressively more ridiculous with each interation. 

Uncharted – starring Nathan Fillon as Nathan Drake

What's happened? Rights to the film have bounced around since 2008 and currently resting with Sony. There was a campaign to have Nathan Fillion cast as Nathan Drake, as he bears a resemblance to the character, but no actor has definitely been attached.

Will it ever see the light of day?  Fairly likely, although as of the end of July no script has been written. 

Could it succeed?  If properly marketed it could be moderately profitable. It's one of the few high-profile video games that has a strongly defined central character. 

Duke Nukem - starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson as Duke Nukem

What happened? Since the nineties, various companies have talked about producing a Duke Nukem movie but nothing. There have been rumours that The Rock was approached at some point but nothing concrete. 

Will it ever see the light of day?  Probably not. The abysmal Duke Nukem Forever has sorely damaged any goodwill gamers may have had for the character. It would be also hard to sell his character to non-gaming moviegoers. 

Could it succeed?  Not without rewriting the character. It might have been entertaining to play as Duke, in Duke Nukem 3D at least, but viewed from the outside he's a fairly unlikeable character. 

The Last of Us - starring Maisie Williams as Ellie

What happened? As with Uncharted, the rights are with Sony and Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams was approached at some point but there's currently no script and it seems to be stuck in development hell. 

Will it ever see the light of day?  Probably, yes, though Sony seem to be having trouble finding the right script. 

Could it succeed?  Yes.  The film could be produced with a relatively low budget, compared to some blockbusters, since the apocalypse has already occured. 

Halo - starring Sharlto Copley as Cortana

What happened? There have been discussions going on at various points over the last ten years, Peter Jackson being slated to produce at one point, though the original film adaptation was cancelled. Neill Blomkamp has also been attached as director, and is apparently still interested. 

Will it ever see the light of day?  Probably not.  There has been a Halo 4 webseries, which was impressive to look at, but still relied on viewers having knowledge of the Halo universe. It would likely require a full trilogy to cover the game's full mythos.  If Blomkamp was involved, it seems a fair bet that his friend Sharlto Copley would be involved at some point. 

Could it succeed?  It would be a hell of a gamble. The space and ground battles would be extremely expensive to produce and few studios would be willing to commit themselves to a trilogy of this magnitude. 

Definitely Not Ellen Page Bonus Round!

Around the time The Last of Us was released, Ellen Page accused Naughty Dog, designers of the game, having 'ripped off (her) likeness' and using it for their character Ellie. There does seem to be a vague resemblence if you play the game and mentally compare the two. However, thanks to Project Murphy, we can see how Ellie would look were she played by Ellen Page.

Suddenly, the facial similarities seem a lot more pronounced....

Video game movies - what's the point? 

While I've mentioned a few of the video game movies that are stuck in limbo, there are plenty more that are lingering between life and death. You could also question whether video games should be made into movies.  Films are a passive medium while video games are an active participatory medium, where you tend to mentally insert yourself into the role of the player character.  Is trying to blend the two just asking for trouble? What do you think? Comment below. 

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About ChrisHannardone of us since 4:27 PM on 09.03.2015